7 Ways to Cook a Turkey without an Oven

The Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, my wall mounted double oven stopped working. I called around trying to have the oven repaired before Thanksgiving to no avail.  I was hosting thanksgiving for 15 people and the star of the feast was supposed to be, two organic turkeys that I had special ordered and was planning to roast in the oven.  I immediately began to research ideas for cooking a turkey without an oven.

Turkey Herbs and Spices

How to Cook a Turkey without an Oven?

To cook a turkey without an oven, you can Slow Cook it in Crock Pot ,  Barbeque it on a Grill, Poach it on the stove, Smoke it, Roast it in a Roaster Oven, Deep Fry in Propane Fryer, or Deep Fry in Electric Fryer. All of these methods have their pros and cons.  To determine the best option for me I considered the size of the turkeys I was planning the prepare, cook time, necessary equipment, & difficulty.

Exploring Options for cooking a Turkey without An Oven

Prior to my oven breaking down, I decided to cook two smaller turkeys as opposed to one large bird. I did some research and found that it was easier to roast a smaller turkey without drying them out.  For my crowd of 15 (10 adults and 5 kids), I estimated I would need around 17lbs of Turkey.  I ordered two 8-10lb Turkeys. Since I had two smaller turkeys to work with all of the options mentioned above were available to me.

Keep reading to find the pros and cons of each technique and a recipe for each type of Turkey. Find out why I decided to use an Electric Deep Fryer, and what I might have done instead.

Slow Cooking a Turkey in a Crock Pot

Anything thing I have ever made in a Crockpot is tender, juicy, and flavorful. I own a decent sized crockpot, so I didn’t need to purchase any additional equipment.  Making the turkey in the crock pot was a solid contender. One downside was the long cook time. This recipe created by The Recipe Rebel called for almost an 8hr cook time for an 8 lb  turkey. That is almost an hour per pound!!  I ordered two turkeys in the 8-10lb, that meant 16 -20 hours of cook time.  Also, with slow cooking to get the nice, crispy skin that I love, I would need to finish the turkey in the oven. Since my oven was not working that was not an option.  I ultimately decided to pass on the slow cooked turkey option since I was cooking two birds and couldn’t get the nice crunchy skin, but it is definitely something I would consider in the future.

The size of the bird could be another limiting factor. The largest crockpot that I have seen available is 10 quarts. The one I currently own is about 8 Quarts. Probably can not go bigger than an 8lb

Bottom Line:   Slow Cooking a Turkey in a  crockpot is a great option for a smaller bird if you want moist & tender meat. Skip this method if you want crispy skin.

Poaching a Turkey on the Stove

I poach chicken to make chicken salad, or chicken soup, other than that I find poaching boring.  I still considered this an option for making Thanksgiving Turkey. It is easy, and I have a stock pock large enough to poach a turkey.  When done right poaching leaves meat very moist and tender. When done improperly the meat is essentially boiled instead of poached and can becomes very tough.

When I poach chicken, it doesn’t impart enough flavor on it’s own. I wanted the star of my Thanksgiving dinner to be a flavor POWER HOUSE.  The skin, would pretty much be useless after being simmered for an extended period of time.  I found a recipe on the website Roasted Beanz for a poached turkey, and tucked it away “Just in Case”.  According to this recipe you can Poach up to a 15lb turkey with a cook time of 2hrs and 20 minutes.  The crispy crunchy skin would be out of the question.

Bottom Line: Poaching a Turkey is my least favorite option. I would much rather use a cooking technique that has a similar texture for both meat and skin as a traditional turkey.  Poaching Turkey could be a good option if you plan to use the meat for sandwiches, in a pot pie,  or in a soup or stew.

Smoking a Turkey

I love smoked meat! It is flavorful, tender and delicious. I’ve never smoked meat at home and I would want to smoke meat outside.  I live in the northeast United States and the forecast for Thanksgiving was cold and windy. I also have a two year-old. It would have been difficult to manage the Turkey in the smoker, side dishes on the stove top, and a busy toddler. I also didn’t own the tools to smoke the turkey, I would need to invest in a  a smoker, learn how to use it in three days.

I found a highly rated  recipe on All Recipes  for smoked turkey, that I would love to try someday. Investing in a smoker and using a technique I never used was a non-starter for me when it came to smoking a turkey for this feast.

Bottom Line: Smoking a Turkey  was not a good option at all for me. But if you are familiar with smoking meat, Smoking a turkey could be a great option if your oven is not working or you want to try something new.

Barbequing a Turkey on the Grill

This could be awesome!  I own both a gas grill and a propane grill and am comfortable using either of them. The estimated cook time for a turkey is 2-3 hours. I probably would use a propane grill, to maintain a more consistent temperature throughout cooking.  Similar to Smoking a turkey this would require my attention to be divided between my indoor kitchen and the outdoor grill, which is tough in general, but especially with a two-year-old running around. This is something I would love to try one day, just not for the 1st time for a crowd of 14 people.

Bottom Line:  Barbequing a Turkey on the grill would have been difficult for me to manage alone with a toddler while preparing side dishes.  In general, barbequing a turkey on the grill is  a good alternative to Roasting a Turkey in the oven.

Deep Fry in Outdoor Propane Fryer

Deep frying was high on the list of alternatives to roasting for me.  I never had fried turkey and really, really, REALLY wanted to try it.  The thought of the flavorful crispy skin, with tender meat was alluring.  It is quicker to fry a turkey than it is to roast it in the oven.   Although it needs to be done outside, my 10lb turkey would take less than an hour to deep fry.  

I would need to invest in equipment, a turkey fryer, fill up a propane tank, and buy a few gallons of oil.  It would totally be worth it, I thought until I realized how dangerous frying a turkey with an outdoor propane fryer can be!  The combination of gallons of hot boiling oil and an open flame, means there are plenty of ways to create an unsafe situation. While the end result of deep frying a turkey was mouthwatering, I decided it was too dangerous for me to attempt while watching a two year old.

The YouTube Video below gives an in-depth explanation about how to use a deep fryer safely.

How to safely Deep Fry a Turkey with a Propane Fryer

  The Winning Method: Deep Frying with an Electric Turkey Fryer

After looking at videos and images of deep- fried turkey, I really wanted to fry a Turkey for Thanksgiving. I started researching ways to fry a Turkey Indoor Safely, and came across the Butterball XL Electric Turkey Fryer. I was able to get a good deal on the Electric Turkey Fryer on amazon, check the current price here.

Deep Fried Turkey in Electric Turkey Fryer
Deep Fried Turkey in Electric Turkey Fryer

I have a small electric deep fryer that I occasionally use to deep-fry fish & chicken.  So, I am comfortable with the idea of deep frying. The Butterball XL Electric Turkey Fryer can handle up to a 20lb Turkey. O could comfortably fry 10lb Turkey in this fryer. Since it was electric and did not require the use of an open flame, it was a much safer option than the electric propane fryer.  

The Butterball XL Electric fryer is a large deep fryer, and filling it to max capacity required 2.75 gallons of oil. I used peanut oil, and paid about $30 for a 3-gallon container. There are other less expensive options for oil to fry a turkey. Peanut oil was the type recommend in the user manual.

The manual for the deep fryer recommended 3.5-4lb per pound. Initially my guests were concerned when they arrived and saw the uncooked turkey sitting on the counter, but they were impressed when they noticed the deep fryer on the counter.  I let the Turkey come to room temperature while the oil warmed up. My guests breathed a sigh of relief when I told them the Turkey would be finished in less than an hour!

My husband lowered the turkey into the deep fryer without incident, no oil splattered on the counter. While the turkey fried, I warmed up the other dishes that guests had prepared. The turkey was done just in time to serve, I let it rest for 10 minutes.  Then served it to guests who were thoroughly impressed.

I wrote a post that goes in to more detail about using the Masterbuilt XL deep fryer to fry a turkey. More information can be found in this post.

Bottom Line: Frying a turkey with an electric fryer is a safer alternative to frying using an electric propane fryer. It is a quick method of preparing turkey and was enjoyed by all of my guests.  The downsides are the oil can be costly, you may have to invest in a large countertop appliance, and the cleanup is a little of a hassle.

  The Runner Up: Roasting the Turkey in a Roaster Oven

A Roaster Oven is another countertop appliance capable of roasting a turkey.  Roaster ovens cost less than the electric fryer and do not require large amounts of oil.  Roaster ovens are capable of producing the same type of crispy skin as a turkey roasted in the oven, in roughly the same amount of time. Roaster ovens are an excellent option for cooking a Turkey if your oven is not available or if you are using your oven to prepare other dishes for Thanksgiving.

I purchased my electric deep fryer prior to looking in to a roaster oven. I loved my deep-fried Turkey, but the roaster oven would have been easier to use, less expensive, with a quicker cleanup.  I also imagine getting more frequent use out of a roaster oven than the cumbersome g deep fryer.  Counter-top Roaster Ovens are available on amazon. The Oyster Roaster oven can handle up to a 26-lb Turkey and is available on amazon. Check the current price of the Oyster Roaster Oven.

Bottom Line: Roasting a Turkey in a Roaster Oven is a good option for preparing a turkey if you cannot use your oven. There appears to be very little difference with using a Roaster Oven as opposed to a standard oven. The only downside is you have to buy a new countertop appliance. The Roaster Oven was cheaper the cost of the service visit to repair the oven.

Mimi D.

Mimi D is the creator of Dream Plan Smile. An NYC native, she is a wife and mom with a passion for crafting. She holds a Bachelor's in Engineering and a Master's in Project Management. In her current role as a working wife and mom, she is getting a crash course in budgeting, planning, & organization.

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